In what comes as a shock to both Nest and Google Smart Segment consumers alike, the Tech-Giant missed up on mentioning the presence of a Mic in Nest Aware – Nest’s range of security devices.
The Nest Guard, which belongs to the Nest Aware Segment has been in the market for more than a year now. It is with the latest update which added a Google Assistant Support to the Nest Guard that triggered the question on the presence of a microphone – because the Assistant demands a Mic presence as the pre-requisite for receiving Vocal Inputs from the user.
However, neither at the time of release nor any of the product specification documents released then cited the presence of a Mic to the device. A company spokesperson who talked to Business Insider mentioned that this miss was an error on the part of Google.
Although the main intention as to why they actually added the Mic functionality was only as a platform for further development and infusion of the Google Assistant for increasing the ergonomics of the device.
Apart from adding Vocal Controls, the addition of the Mic is also associated with increasing the use cases of the Nest Guard. These could include Detection of noises associated with burglary or theft – broken window glasses, for example. It could also be used for the detection of the other sounds important sounds such as baby cries.
Google also added that the Mic by default does not remain turned ‘On’. The user has to manually enable the Mic Functionality. Hence, Nest Guard users can find relief in knowing that the Microphone would not have turned ‘On’ automatically and eavesdropped upon their conversations.
Though it might appear as a miss of one of the Technical Specifications, the fact that it remained undetected for more than a year raises a lot of questions and concerns with respect to User Privacy.
The Feature Specification currently on Nest’s page has been currently updated to show ‘Built-in Google Assistant’.
Currently, one of the most debated aspects of Smart Home Devices is User Privacy. There is a major portion of the population who are still skeptical on Privacy Protection associated with these connected devices. There are also people who completely say ‘No’ to Smart Devices with the sole reason being Privacy Concern.
A notable portion of the Consumer Segment is already reluctant to install these devices in bedrooms and bathrooms. The reason being simple – these devices have eyes and ears are connected to the internet. Though these devices may not actually spy on people by themselves, there is always a chance of them being hacked.
In fact, some smart home manufacturers actually call out the absence of Cameras or Mics on their Smart Devices to build privacy confidence in customers. To cite an example, when the Google Home Hub was released, one of its major call outs (by almost all major News Sites and Reviewer Portals) was the absence of a camera as adding plus points to Customer Privacy.
This major miss on mentioning the presence of a Mic has already created a stir in the minds of a certain section of consumers in the Smart Home Segment. Whether or not, if this would affect the Nest Product sales is something to be wait and seen.
However, there is also a segment of the Smart Device Consumers who are ‘OK’ with the fact that this information was missed – according to the, after all, a lot of Smart Devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo already had built-in mics, and some people still do not mind keeping them in their bedrooms.